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Health Testing

Health Testing on Australian Labradoodles Before Breeding by Big Rock Labradoodles | Montana | St. Johns

Our dogs today are no longer just family pets..they are members of the family.  At Big Rock Labradoodles, we get that and that is why we are doing everything possible to ensure that your new family member is going to be not just with you, but healthy for a long, long time.  No one can guarantee a perfect dog, but we do feel confident enough in the quality of our dogs to warranty them against the development of a genetic condition.

Here at Big Rock Labradoodles, we have put many hours to the study of the genetic component of breeding. We constantly ask ourselves if there is more that we can be doing to ensure the health and longevity of our Wonderful Woofies.  We know that there is much that can be done to ensure that we are breeding only genetically healthy dogs and that is exactly what we do through our genetic screening program with Paw Print Genetics.  Our breeding dogs are tested for the following genetic diseases:

  • Degenerative Myelopathy (Aliases: Canine degenerative myelopathy, DM)

  • Exercise-Induced Collapse (Aliases: EIC)

  • *Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis (Aliases: HNPK)

  • *Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures (Aliases: NEWS)

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Cone-Rod Dystrophy 4 (Aliases: Progressive retinal atrophy - cord1, Progressive retinal atrophy - crd4, Progressive retinal atrophy - crd4/cord1, PRA-cord1, PRA-crd4, PRA-crd4/cord1)

  • *Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (Aliases: PRA-PRCD, PRCD)

  • *Von Willebrand Disease I (Aliases: Pseudohemophilia, Vascular hemophilia, von Willebrand disease type 1, von Willebrand's disease, VWDI)

These are simple recessive diseases in Australian Labradoodles, which means that both parents must carry one copy of the mutated gene in order to create offspring who are affected by the disease. It is impossible for any of our puppies to exhibit these diseases because we always ensure that either one or both of the parents is Clear for all mutated genes of these diseases. 

* These genetic tests have recently been added to our breeding program based upon studies done on a sub-section of the Australian Labradoodle population and evidence that our breed has enough carriers of these heritable diseases to make adding these tests worthwhile.

Why don't all breeders do genetic health screening on their breeding stock?  Simply put, these tests cost a lot of money and can exclude otherwise fabulous dogs from breeding programs.

We didn't just stop there!  Our dogs are also screened for physical genetic disorders as well.  


All our breeding stock, male and female, have passed OFA CAER examinations, and are re-tested every 18 months.  CAER is a general eye exam by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist (specialist) who examines the eye for any heritable eye diseases.


There are different ratings for canine hips: Excellent, Good, and Fair are all "normal" ratings.  The next is a borderline hip rating, followed by three degrees of dysplasia: Mild, Moderate, and Severe.  We only breed dogs within the Excellent, Good, and Fair ratings.

We x-ray the hip and elbow joints of all our breeding dogs to check for abnormalities, whether by injury or genetics.  However; that does not mean that we only breed the perfect dogs together.  As the diseases of hip dysplasia are elbow dysplasia are influenced by a number of genes and environmental factors, it is not an exact science.  It is always best to breed "perfect" quality dogs together, who have excellent hip joints, normal elbows, flawless eyes, and no health issues of any other type; however, in the real world, keeping to the excellent categories would serve only to irreversibly diminish the gene pool.  Further, the quality of joints of the siblings, parents, aunts, and uncles of the dog in question can be as important as those of the dog itself.

The statistics published by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) show that breeding two dogs with "Good" hips together would produce 10% dysplastic offspring.  Breeding two dogs with "Fair" hips produces 20% dysplastic offspring while breeding a dog with "Excellent" hips to a dog with "Fair" hips produces 10% dysplastic pups as well.  However, very few of these dogs will ever limp, or show any clinical signs of dysplasia until their senior years, if at all.  Regardless, by the time any canine reaches the age of 8-10 years, many signs of aging can be present.


In comparison, while hips are rated "Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, or different grades of dysplastic", elbows are rated only as "Normal" (perfect) and then different grades of dysplastic.  We only breed dogs with a rating of Normal.

As a breeder, we must always know who is being bred to whom within our program so that the lines are improved and the pups are of equal or better quality than their parents. If we disqualified all of the dogs with the slightest issue, we would lose large percentages of the breeding population in every generation, compounding a gene pool problem that is historically present in purebred dogs and far more dangerous to the dogs than any heritable disease.

These statistics are based upon huge studies of up to 500,000 dogs of all different breeds.  There is nothing specific to Labradoodles. All of these statistics also reflect clinical and sub-clinical dysplasias. 'Clinical' would be a dog who is actually lame.  'Sub-clinical' is a diagnosis of dysplasia based on poor joint conformation from x-rays.  While we are always concerned about sub-clinical dysplasias in breeding, we don't warranty unless there is a clinical problem, as there are many dogs with no symptoms who are enjoying happy lives with less-than-superior joints.

We hope you feel informed.  We have done our best through study and experience and with what we have put into practice here at Big Rock Labradoodles to actively breed for better Australian Labradoodles!

Although there is no such thing as a "perfect" Australian Labradoodle, there is certainly a possibility that the genetic strengths of a breeding pair can complement each other in a way that makes the foundation for a healthier future.

We hope that you have enjoyed our summary of the genetic component of our breeding program.  Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have in addition to the information that we have provided here.

Help us in the fight against poor breeding which results in the unnecessary suffering of puppies and dogs. Please do not buy a puppy from a breeder who does not spend the time and money to test their breeding stock for all of the inherent diseases that affect their breed.